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Poster: Mandojammer Date: Jul 21, 2014 5:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: 7/21/84 - TDIH - The 1984 Project

Just short of being a "Stand out show for the Year"

Cold Rain and Snow and Truckin' were graded as "Stand out for the Year" tunes. Truckin' not for the reason you might think....

43. 7/21/84 – Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA

a. Shakedown Street – As in recent shows, some trepidation at the brightness and jangle in the keys, and the immediate chiming we are subjected to. Jerry is using the envelope follower filter so the bluesy funkiness sets in right from the start. Mix is kind of jacked up for the first few minutes – vocals are very hot and borderline hissy. Phil bumps up higher in the mix around 1:45 and things start to balance out. Brent is still too high in the mix which isn’t helping since the key jangle is irritating. By 4:00 or so, the mix has settled out pretty well. Bobby’s rhythm and Phil’s bass line is offsetting the jangle. Jer’s guitar sounds great, but he could stand to be bumped a touch higher in the mix. Instrumental jam starting after the vocals at about 8:00 is funky and fun, but the keys are just a tiny bit overblown to the point of being slightly distracting. Brent does shift to a more electric piano sound, which is a big improvement, but the chimes linger. Overall, well played, and a good version of Shakedown. Good start.
b. Little Red Rooster – Funky blues continues with LRR. Welcome shift to B3. Great bass line from Phil right from the start. Lose the vocal echo please. Bobby’s slide up through 6:08 when he hands off to Jerry gets a bit screechy and sloppy. Jerry’s solo following is great. Brent is accenting him very well. Bobby has a bit of a slide train wreck at the end.
c. Althea – Ugggh. A great song that suffers from janglechimeitis. Someone slap Brent on the back of the head – “What were you thinking?” I guess someone did slap him – by 2:00, the chimes are far less noticeable, and the keys, while still bright and jangly are no longer distracting. Jer’s solo at 2:50 is short but crispy. His vocals are pretty strong. No major vocal bumbles – yet.
d. Me and My Uncle – Keys are still bright, but no chimes yet. Billy and Mickey are bored stiff. It gets a little sloppy in places, but the bright keys are the major detractor.
e. Mexicali Blues – Opens with a couple of rhythm clams before Phil decides he needs to be heard. Keys are too bright. Some nice separation between Billy and Mickey. Phil’s line and Jerry’s riffs are the only things keeping me from a fast forward to the next track. Jer’s middle jam starting around 2:13 is very well played.
f. China Cat Sunflower* – Call this one “Phil’s Stomp”. 80s keys, bright, but no chimes and not distracting or overdone. Drums are high in the mix, cymbals sound hissy. Jerry is front left center, Bobby is one layer back behind Jerry. Jerry’s opening solo sounds clean and crisp. His vocals are strong. Tempo seems just a touch quick, but a typical 80s pace. The jam into the transition starting around 2:50 is mixed nicely with the keys audible, but back mitigating the jangle. Nothing remarkable, but a good tune. I like how Bobby picked up his rhythm in the last two minutes.
g. I Know You Rider* – 80s pace carries into Rider. Phil still dominating. Jer’s noodles and runs sound happy. A good example of a good 80s China>Rider. Despite the Chewbacca chiming at the end.
h. Looks Like Rain – I’m not close to saying I like LLR, but this was a very listenable version. Phil and Jerry carried this tune. The keys were still too jangly and from time to time, chimes crept in. The keys were fine as long as they were the electric piano sound. Around the 6:00 minute mark, Bobby’s vocals took on an echo effect that actually sounded really good. Some of that was the crescendo that everyone began building into. Jer’s riff at 7:00 was simple, but really well played. All in all a good version – because of the 80s or for the 80s? You decide.
i. Might As Well* – So far, Phil has been the constant force everyone can anchor to. Jerry’s guitar is hot in the mix – good thing since the keys are really bright too. Bobby and Brent back Jerry’s vocals nicely, even when Jer gets loose and wide in the turns with his singing. Listen for the Bobby rhythm strikes at 2:00. A good version.
j. Cold Rain and Snow* – Keys are back to B3 and sound really good. Bobby’s rhythm is solid and he’s mixed high and left. Billy and Mickey are very sharply separated. They blend perfectly with Jer’s first solo at 2:45 and Phil provides a great bass line. Brent’s backing tenor sounds really good. This one is all about the sum of the parts. By far, the best tune of the show (so far).
k. Far From Me – Brent fans celebrated the opening barrage of jangly made my fillings hurt. Unlike Don’t Need Love, I doubt this song will ever grow on me to the point of liking it. I get it, Brent fans will love it. I don’t care for him as a lead singer.
l. Truckin’* – This was a wonderful mess right from the start. Maybe it’s just me, but they sounded like they just got looser and looser as the song progressed. No version of Truckin’ is complete without Bobby blowing the lyrics at least once, and in this version we got two. Phil of course, was fantastic. Brent’s falsetto screeching around 5:00 was ridiculous. The buildup to the crescendo starting at 5:20 with the climax at 6:05 was a glorious off key train wreck. Somehow, some way, it all mashed up into a great performance of what by now was a safe tune. The boys figured out a way to throw this performance at us with just a little more movement on the curveball than normal.
m. Eyes of the World* – Pace starts out slower than you might expect from an 80s version. Jer sounds like he’s singing in an empty auditorium. Phil is carrying the ball on this one. Keys are 80s bright, moderate jangle. Jer’s first solo sounds really clean. Billy and Mickey are not split as well as earlier mixes – both cymbals and skins are dominant in the left. It’s probably okay since the keys are high and right. Bobby is smack in the middle with Phil, Jer is middle with the occasional drift to the right. I like the pace and even though it’s a brighter version, and got a touch chimey at the end, it’s a good one.
n. Drums* – Sounds like it took a little extra convincing to get Bobby to surrender to Drums. Anytime low tom and bass drum is featured, it’s good. Hope you waited to pee.
o. Space* – This was a good one. It had evil undercurrents almost from the beginning so I hope anyone tripping had a good mindset going in or good handlers, because it seemed some might have wigged out a little in some sections (around 5:30 could cause trouble). TOO noodled at 2:40 during a particularly spooky sequence. A good Drums>Space pairing.
p. The Other One – It’s the 80s, which means some of the early year stalwarts got clipped and cut short. This was one of those. It was good....for the 80s, but nothing remarkable when lined up against the early years and even other versions in 84.
q. Stella Blue* – This tune does not benefit from being chimed. That said, you have to throw a lot of stuff on SB for it to be “bad”. Phil’s bass line and the plaintive ring in Jerry’s guitar carried this tune. Jer’s vocals had a perfect amount of strain and ache for the mood set by the tune. His ending solo was nothing short of great. This version was placed in a good spot in this show and it was well performed. The crowd had to sense they were winding down to the end of the show.
r. Around and Around – Talk about a neck snap transition. A little too abrupt for me. I think they should have walked it down a little bit more before jumping into the time signature change. But the B3 jumped right in, Phil slid right into his line and Billy and Mickey split cleanly into the right and left channels. Will we get Bobby whisper screeches and will they be tolerable or goofy head scratchers? Nice sequence from Brent at 2:35 going into the key change. Counting down to potential whisper screeching with some anxiety.....As if on cue, 3:30 delivers the first. Not overdone. Another whiplash transition into OMSN.
s. One More Saturday Night – Clean switch. Upbeat and lively from the hat drop. The crowd was up and dancing by now. They are all hitting on all cylinders now and bringing this show home. Billy and Mickey are carrying the ball on this one and Brent is not far behind. A nice version.
t. Touch of Grey – Whatever was holding them together for A&A and OMSN evaporated. This Touch was loose and sloppy from the start. Vocal flubs in just about every verse. The occasional clams from everyone (except Phil). Still, the song considered by many as responsible for the tainting of the gene pool has a certain feel with this version that it’s supposed to be a loose, wild ride. If that’s what you were looking for, you were happy with the end of this show.

This was an interesting, above average show that came up just short for consideration as stand out for the year. Just a hair too much chimes, and the looseness of some of the tunes kept it out of the running. Still, it was a strong show and if you were there you liked it. I’m probably being too harsh since this whole run since June has been pretty solid.